Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Big Other Finally Noticed

The systematic cover-up by London police - with the passive cooperation of most of the mainstream print and broadcast media - of the circumstances leading to the death of Ian Tomlinson during the April 1st G20 spectacle protest in London should come as no surprise. A full six days elapsed before the Guardian released video footage filmed by, ironically, an American bond-dealer tourist, during which time the police and their 'watchdog' predictably sought to displace blame onto others, from Tomlinson himself (the myth of the self-implicating 'heart attack') to protesters (interfering with medics' attempts to revive Tomlinson) to the media ( The IPCC alsatian attempting to restrain the Guardian from publishing details of Tomlinson being attacked by police minutes before his 'natural' death because it would 'upset Tomlinson's parents'). They almost succeeded.

The Guardian's Paul Lewis summarizes the chronology of events:

How the story changed ...

Wednesday April 1. Ian Tomlinson, 47, a newspaper vendor, collapses and
dies at the G20 protests. In a statement that night, the Metropolitan police
says that medics were temporarily impeded from helping him as "a number of
missiles - believed to be bottles - were being thrown at them".

Thursday April 2. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)
says it will "assess the circumstances".

Friday April 3. A postmortem finds that Tomlinson died of a heart
attack. The Guardian contacts City of London police - tasked with conducting the
investigation into Tomlinson's death on behalf of the IPCC - and says it has
obtained photographs of him lying on the pavement at the feet of riot

Sunday April 5. The Guardian's photographs are published, along with
the testimony of three named witnesses who describe him being hit with a baton
or thrown to the ground by police. The IPCC criticises the Guardian for
upsetting Tomlinson's family. It tells other journalists that there is "nothing
in the story" that he had been assaulted by an officer.

Monday April 6. The IPCC confirms Tomlinson had contact with police. It
continues to "manage" an investigation conducted by City police, some of whose
officers were pictured at the site of Tomlinson's alleged assaults.

Tuesday April 7. At 2am, the Guardian receives video footage that
clearly shows Tomlinson was hit with a baton and pushed to the floor by a riot
officer. That afternoon, it publishes the footage on its website and hands a
dossier of evidence to the IPCC.

Wednesday April 8. The IPCC reverses its decision to allow City police
to investigate the death.

Thursday April 9. The Met suspends the officer shown in the footage; 48
hours on, he has still not been questioned by the IPCC.

Friday April 10. Tomlinson's father says he believes the police acted
with excessive force

What is increasingly clear from all the video footage and the eyewitness reports, is that Tomlinson cracked his head against the concrete pavement after being knocked over by a cop (one eyewitness 'winced' upon hearing the sound), while the rushed postmortem that concluded that his death was the result of a 'heart attack' has already been discredited: the freelance pathologist called in by the police turns out to be an incompetent loon, having previously, among other bizarre determinations, also attributed the death of a murdered woman to a 'heart attack', a finding that enabled the unstable suspect to be released to murder yet another two women.

The indifference to Tomlinson's death of much of the media, especially the BBC, prior to the wide release of the watershed video comes on the heels of their seeming acceptance of Section 76 of the Terrorism Act, which is being increasingly invoked to ban all photographing of police activity, of officers, of their vehicles, of their buildings, and in spite of this recent protest against the ban outside Scotland Yard headquarters by hundreds of NUJ photographers:

The risk now is that what K-punk describes as the romance of a politics of failure will escalate further, the libidinal investments intensified, with state power more rigidly and obscenely implementing the 'Terrorism Act' against protesters while the reflexively impotent acting-out of the protesters themselves continues serving to postpone their giving up on "the gratification of displaying wounds inflicted by the police as signs of grace, evidence that we are on the side of the Good" while further elevating the spectacle of a 'feelgood simulation of politics' devoid of any direct political organization that acts without the need for recognition or permission from the Big Other.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fail Again. Fail Better: Another Conference. And Another.

I have a boring suggestion.

Could the next venue for a 'radical' conference please be at the site of antagonism, at the site of a factory, office, corporate, or state-body occupation? Or how about its prestigious deliberations being presented at the participants' local bank branch? Or a 'job centre'/unemployment office? An 'event' rather than a cosily rarefied academic-rivalry non-event? A simple token of cross-fertilization, of connectivity? A little immanence. Or is the impossible still impossible?

Radical Philosophy Conference, Central London, 9 May 2009

Power to the People?

`Power to the people!’ was once a revolutionary slogan, but reference to government by the people and for the people soon became an empty cliché of the post-revolutionary status quo (see above - Citizen Smith as commentary on fidelity?). The people has become a notoriously ambiguous and contested term, for which numerous alternatives have been proposed: the proletariat, the workers, the masses, the soviets, the nation, the community, the multitude, the commons… And now? How might we assess the different conceptions of political change embodied in these often conflicting ideas? What is the political and philosophical significance of `the people’ today?

Plenary (chair: Peter Osborne, RP)
`They, the People’ - Gayatri Spivak (Columbia University, NY)

The General Will (chair: Peter Hallward, RP)
‘The General Will on the Street’ - David Andress (Portsmouth)
‘How Do the People Make Themselves Heard?’ - Sophie Wahnich (CNRS, Paris)

Urban Collectivities (chair: David Cunningham, RP)
‘Urban Intersections and the Politics of Anticipation’ - AbdouMaliq Simone (Goldsmiths)`Urbanism and the Post-Political’ - Erik Swyngedouw (Manchester)
Population & Biopolitics (chair: Stuart Elden, Durham)

‘Biopolitics, Diasporas and (Neo)Liberal Political Economy’ - Couze Venn (Nottingham Trent)
‘Feminist Strategies Revisited – Sexopolitics, Multitude and Biopolitics’ - Encarnacion Gutierrez Rodriguez (Manchester)

Class, Commons & Multitude (chair: Esther Leslie, RP)‘Crisis, Tragedies and the Commons’ - Massimo De Angelis (UEL)

£25/£10 unwaged
Registration and further details:
Cheques payable to `Radical Philosophy Ltd’ should be sent to: Radical Philosophy Conference, Peter Osborne, CRMEP, Middlesex University, Trent Park Campus, Bramley Rd, London N14 4YZ

Via IT.

---- Turin, 1920: factory occupation.

And Another ...



Date: 23 June 2009>
Venue: Queen Mary, University of London>
Call for papers deadline: 22 May 2009
All papers and enquiries to:

Keynote speakers:
Professor James Williams (University of Dundee)
Dr Ray Brassier (American University of Beirut)
Dr Alberto Toscano (Goldsmiths, University of London)

The concepts of immanence and materialism are becoming increasingly important in political philosophy. This conference seeks to analyse the connections between these two concepts and to examine the consequences for political thought. It is possible, as Giorgio Agamben has done, to make a distinction within modern philosophy between a line of transcendence (Kant, Husserl, Levinas, Derrida) and a line of immanence (Spinoza, Nietzsche, Deleuze, Foucault). If we follow this distinction, then 'the line of immanence' might include Spinozist interpretations of Marx, Althusser's aleatory materialism, and Deleuze's superior empiricism. But what is the value of this work and is it useful to distinguish it from 'transcendent' philosophies? Distinctions between materialism and idealism are equally complex: Derrida, for example, might as easily be classed a materialist as an idealist. And where can we place more recent work like the critiques of Deleuze by Badiou and Zizek, or Meillassoux's speculative materialism?

Papers may wish to consider the following questions:

-What is materialist philosophy? How can it be distinguished from idealist philosophy, and is it useful to do so? Are all philosophies of immanence necessarily materialist?
-Is it legitimate or useful to make a clear distinction between philosophies of immanence and philosophies of transcendence?
-How have the concepts of immanence and materialism traditionally been conceived within political philosophy?
-What, if any, are the political consequences of pursuing a philosophy of immanence?

Paper titles and a 300-word abstract should be sent by Friday 22 May> 2009 to Simon Choat at, Department of Politics,> Queen Mary.>> Graduate papers welcome.

Via No Useless Leniency. [Graham Harman will be there with his new USB microscope, Levi Bryant with his bumber crop of cucumbers, and Dejan with 'his' latest trans-gender photoshop application ...].


"How did the ideology of Enlightenment evolve in the 18th century France? First,
there was the epoch of salons, in which philosophers where trying to shock their
benefactors, the generous Counts and Countesses, even Kings and Emperatrices
(Holbach Frederick the Great, Diderot Catherine the Great), with their "radical"
ideas on equality, the origin of power, the nature of men, etc. - all of this
remaining a kind of intellectual game. At this stage, the idea that someone
could take these ideas literally, as the blueprint for a radical socio-political
transformation, would probably shock the ideologists themselves who were either
part of the entourage of an enlightened nobleman or lone pathetic figures like
Rousseau - their reaction would have been that of Ivan Karamazov, disgusted upon
learning that his bastard half-brother and servant acted on his nihilistic
ruminations, killing his father. This passage from intellectual game to an idea
which effectively "seizes the masses" is the moment of truth - in it, the
intellectual gets back his own message in its inverted/true form. In France, we
pass from the gentle reflections of Rousseau to the Jacobin Terror; within the
history of Marxism, it is only with Lenin that this passage occurs, that the
games are REALLY over. And it is up to us to repeat this same passage and
accomplish the fateful step from the ludic "postmodern" radicalism to the domain
in which the games are over."
-----Slavoj Zizek, Repeating Lenin.